Punctuation

Punctuation helps to read and make sense of what is written. It is vital in the development of reading comprehension and provides the link between spoken like language and the more formal written language.

Strategy

Identifies the correct sentence punctuation

Explicitly teaching the metalanguage of sentences assists students to look for, be aware of and use punctuation markers in sentences. Opportunities to put elements together to form a coherent whole in contextual and meaningful activities should be provided so that students can practice, verbalise and transfer skills to new situations.

Activities to support the strategy

Activity 1: pre–assessment

To determine students' current understanding of grammatical/punctuation and technical language, a quiz such as the one here could be given, either in small groups, so the teacher can note individual responses, or as an individual assessment. While this isn't a reading assessment older students should be able to read the sentences. Item selection will depend on the stage of the students (see scope and sequence from the syllabus).

Punctuation True or false?
1. You write a comma when you take a breath. T/F
2. You write a capital letter at the beginning of a line. T/F
3. You write a full stop after a thought. T/F
4. You write a full stop at the end of the line. T/F
5. A full stop should be written after an independent clause. T/F
6. "Sydney" and other important words should always be capitalised. T/F

Activity 2: kung fu punctuation

The following PowerPoint is available from Tes Connect. This is free to join and has wonderful resources.

The PowerPoint has a multi-sensory approach to punctuation that would appeal to the students struggling with punctuation. Will need quality supervision and to be aware that these activities are only for classroom use and with the teacher directing.

Activity 3: punctuation posters

These posters can be downloaded from Tes Connect. This is free to join and has wonderful resources.

Students firstly orally produce a sentence that demonstrates the marker in the poster, and then write (again either joint construction or independently) the ‘best’ one for the day. These are displayed with the poster and changed daily.

Activity 4: authentic text demonstration of the punctuation students are currently studying

Students use the book that is being jointly read. A simple sentence is selected. Read the sentence together and discuss, analysing structure (Subject/Verb/Object and punctuation). Depending on the year level, students could write these sentences on their individual whiteboard or in a book. Discuss what makes the sentence effective, or not, as the case may be. Students then write similar sentences in the same style to ensure they have understood the grammatical structure.

Variation: The first two sentences that demonstrate one simple and one complex sentence structure could be selected. Read the sentences together and discuss, analysing structure.

Activity 5: example of independent/guided worksheet

The worksheet can either be used with a partner or as part of a modelled lesson. Note: explicitly teach the rule that all proper nouns (names of people and places) must start with a capital letter as well.

Activity 6: punctuation paired reading

The poster is revised and discussed. In pairs students take it in turn to read a passage from a familiar text. The first read is with the punctuation and observing what the poster indicates as 'good reading.' The second read (by the same child) is without punctuation. The partner has to indicate at the end where the punctuation was left out.

References

Australian curriculum

ACELA1449: Recognise that different types of punctuation, including full stops, question marks and exclamation marks, signal sentences that make statements, ask questions, express emotion or give commands.

NSW syllabus

EN1-9B: Uses basic grammatical features, punctuation conventions and vocabulary appropriate to the type of text when responding to and composing text.

NSW literacy continuum

WRIC6M5: Aspects of writing, Cluster 6, Marker 5: Uses simple punctuation, e.g. full stops, exclamation marks and question marks.

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